The Patient Support Corps
The Patient Support Corps is a service-learning internship program operating out of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF. We train pre-health interns to serve patients as navigators or health coaches, while earning academic credit or a stipend. This program has a special focus on attracting students from under-represented backgrounds, and supporting patients who are under-served. In this way we are simultaneously advancing patient care and student careers.
Our ideal vision is a world in which patients make informed health decisions based on their personal priorities. Our purpose is to provide patients with the support they need in this quest for personalized healthcare. Our mission is to train diverse students so that our health workforce delivers culturally competent care for all.
The Patient Support Corps enters into affiliation agreements with clinical sites where patients need navigation or health coaching. Patients obtain some of this support from our interns. In this way, interns extend the capacity and diversity of the patient’s care team, while escalating or referring patients to other team members as needed. Our interns support patients under the supervision of physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers, navigators, schedulers, and medical assistants. Some of our clinical sites include UCSF’s Office of Population Health and Accountable Care; the Transplant Division; the Breast Care Center; the Patient and Family Cancer Support Center; and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. Dartmouth and Massachusetts General Hospital have their own chapters of the Patient Support Corps.
For a published case study of our work in population health, please see here
For a multi-year evaluation of our work in the Breast Care Center, please see here
We onboard students into job classifications as “student interns” or “affiliate employees.” We train students to use all of the information technology required for navigator or health coaching roles, including the electronic health record, telephony, and care management systems. Students gain skills, experience, and access to role models and mentors.
We fund the Patient Support Corps through state, institutional and philanthropic funds. Recently the Patient Support Corps was one of the first employers to sign on to the state’s Learning-Aligned Employment Program (LAEP). This program will provide a wage subsidy for students from first-generation and other under-represented backgrounds. EdSource covered UCSF's pioneering work with the Learning-Aligned Employment Program. The coverage includes an interview of the first Patient Support Corps intern to participate.
Our clinical sites track our intern contributions to patient care outcomes. We track our alumni in terms of their progress through educational and employment milestones. For example, our recent census of program alumni showed that between 2004 and 2021, our internships fielded 278 students. Of 112 alumni from 5 or more years ago, 84 (75%) have now completed medical, pharmacy, or nursing school. Another 18 were accepted, enrolled and are on track to bring the completion rate to 102/112 (91%). In a 2022 survey of recent alumni, 46 of 121 (38%) were from underrepresented populations. For the 2022 and 2023 new cohorts joining the Patient Support Corps, 30/38 (79%) were from under-represented populations.
Please contact the Patient Support Corps faculty director, Jeff Belkora (firstname.lastname@example.org), for more information. Patients and families seeking support from the Patient Support Corps should email email@example.com or call (415) 476-6004.